Wine pioneer Max Lake dies aged 84

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Dr Max Lake, O.A.M., F.R.C.S., one of the pioneers of the modern Australian wine industry, has died aged 84.

Dr Lake died at his family home on Sydney's North Shore on Tuesday 14th April, surrounded by family. He is best remembered for establishing the Hunter Valley winery Lake's Folly, in 1963, which was the first boutique family-owned winery in Australia. He was described by The Bulletin in 1988 as 'the man who started the wine boom'. Wine consumers and industry alike have much to thank him for.

A hand surgeon by profession, Dr Lake made many important contributions to the food and wine industry in Australia working as an international food and wine judge, a researcher and author of 14 books primarily on aromas and the sensory world. His self-published autobiograhy describes his journey "from medicine to wine making to cooking and flavour; from Paris to Sydney to Moscow and all the colourful characters and adventures along the way".

He was a larger than life character himself, full of wisdom about wine and wine judging which he was only too happy to pass onto associates and stewards alike. His books, including the famous 'Fragrances of Love', explored the taste sensations of wine and food, in particular the mysterious unami taste, which he found in foods like cheese and even in some wines (and women). His interests were wide-ranging and included the evolution of the fish pattern on Chinese ceramics, of which he was a collector.

Dr Lake, who also received the Order of Australia Medal, leaves behind three children, eight grandchildren and one great grandchild. His wife Joy died in February 2007.

Many of his books are available from, including his autobiography as a free download.


  • Hunter Valley (NSW)
  • Sydney (NSW)

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April 16th, 2009
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